When it comes to creative freedom, football manager gives us two options; to be more expressive or to be more disciplined.
However, you can also leave the instructions blank and let your team mentality as well as your other team instructions dictate the level of freedom your players have when following your game plan.
In this article, I will cover what the two instructions mean, and when you should use either of them,
Be More Expressive In FM
Football manager describes the be more expressive instruction as one that allows your more creative players the freedom to play the game with additional vision and flair outsides the confines of a team’s tactical setup, including the freedom to roam from their position.
From the word go, the be more expressive instruction will suit teams that have players in the final third who are versatile and can operate in different areas, meaning if they show up in the opposite flank, they will still be effective.
You can use the instruction on a counter-attacking setup that will have the team’s forward players sprinting forward to take advantage of the opposition losing the ball in your defensive third.
Asking your team to be more expressive in this instance might lead to your central midfielder joining in the attack, and maybe getting an assist or even scoring a goal whereas if you had asked the team to be more disciplined, the central midfielder would likely have held his position and leave the attacking business to your strikers, attacking midfielders or the wingers.
The be more expressive instruction is also useful in tactics where you have players in very rigid roles, but you would like them to express their flair and trickery a bit more than the roles you have assigned would let them.
Imagine you have a midfield set-up comprising a defensive midfielder on defend duty and two central midfielders on support duties ahead of your DM.
This seems like a boring set-up in an attacking sense, however, by letting the team be more expressive, your midfield trio would put to use their creativity and flair to be more effective in progressing your team up the field.
How expressive your players become is still tied to other factors like their player traits, as well as the team’s mentality and passing directness.
If you are facing an opponent that has come up with a tactic that has stifled the way your team plays, relying on your players’ creativity by asking them to be more expressive and sometimes play outside the tactical confines of your team can be an effective way of snatching a goal or two
Be More Disciplined In FM
Football manager describes the be more disciplined instruction as one that asks players to play as a part of a robust and focused tactical shape in order to make the team a stronger collective group.
FM also notes that the instruction might have the side effect of stifling some individual expression.
I am a big fan of asking my team to be more disciplined, as I prefer them to play the way I have envisioned in my head.
It might work out sometimes, but in those cases where it doesn’t, I know that I am the one that I have fallen tactically short rather than because my mezzala preferred playing his own way.
Being more disciplined suits teams that play in a very structured way that relies on players maintaining their positions without roaming too far or taking things into their own hands.
Think of a player like Jack Grealish. When he was at Aston Villa, the team was built (largely around him) in such a way that they had more freedom in the final third to do what they think is more effective, which was more often than not playing the ball to Grealish, and betting he will find Watkins with a killer pass or win a free kick to get the team further up the field.
This is one of the reasons Grealish has struggled at Man City, as Pep prefers players strictly sticking to his philosophy, which has had the negative effect of stifling Grealish’s natural game.
He rarely roams from his LW position, and when the ball gets to him, his driving runs of the past are well gone, as he now prefers recycling the ball as instructed by the manager.
While these are the disadvantages to such a system that is rigid, it is still highly effective if you have the players for it, as has been shown by the dominance Manchester City has enjoyed over the past years Pep has been managing them.
Therefore, asking your players to be more disciplined in FM will mean they rarely do their own things outside the tactical setup, which comes at the expense of preventing some players from showing their natural flair.
You can also ask your team to be more disciplined in cases where you are using roles that are very attacking in nature.
Asking your team to be more disciplined in such cases might be wise to prevent your players from deviating too much from what you want them to achieve.
If you do not want to mess with the creative freedom, you can start a game with no option selected, then depending on how the game unfolds, you can then decide on which route to take, either toning the freedom down or increasing it.
Finally, once you are happy with your team’s creative freedom, take a look at the final third options in FM and find out whether working the ball into the box or swinging in early crosses is right for your team.